The Boston Red Sox’s turnaround during the month of June likely proves to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom this current group is worth adding to.
Behind an impressive run of starting pitching and an offense that has come alive against inferior competition, the Red Sox have won 16 of their last 20 games. Boston is just a half game back of the second-place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East, though the surging New York Yankees remain in the driver’s seat for the division title.
Nevertheless, the Red Sox look like a playoff team, and should they add in certain spots, Boston might just transition into a title contender. The biggest area of need resides in the bullpen, as Boston’s late-inning issues and numerous blown saves have cost the group a better record. Another potential spot to address is at first base.
The Washington Nationals’ Josh Bell is one specific player who could complement Boston’s current group.
Washington sits in last place in the National League East with an abysmal 25-47 record. It indicates Bell, especially seeing as he is playing on a one-year, $10 million contract, should be available for cheap. Bell will be a free agent after the season, much like former Nationals star Kyle Schwarber was when Bloom and company traded for him at last year’s deadline.
The Red Sox started to platoon Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero at first base in May. And while Cordero has provided an offensive boost in his 23 games at the position, he’s best suited in the grass. Meanwhile, Dalbec has lacked consistency — career-worst .207 batting average, .621 OPS — after putting together a strong conclusion to the 2021 campaign. Dalbec has a mere five home runs and 17 RBIs while playing in 64 of Boston’s 70 games.
The addition of Bell would allow Boston to build some depth in the outfield and might allow Dalbec to be used against more favorable matchups rather than being an everyday first baseman.
Bell would provide a lift in the lineup, as the 2019 MLB All-Star has recorded career highs this season, including a .295 batting average and an .852 OPS. Bell has 22 extra-base hits in 71 games, including 11 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Cordero has 13 extra-base hits in 44 games, while Dalbec has 12 in 64. And while the Red Sox have not been short on offense, especially since mid-May, Bell would provide another reliable bat late in the order.
Another reason as to why Bell might serve as the best fit in comparison to other first basemen available: finances. The Red Sox wouldn’t necessarily have to pay Bell handsomely this summer, as they wouldn’t have anything tied to him beyond this season given his contract.
The Red Sox continue to be high on top prospect Triston Casas. And while it was speculated the hard-hitting first baseman could arrive in Boston this season, the arrival of Bell would allow Casas to continue to get healthy and develop in Triple-A Worcester. Casas suffered a sprained ankle last month. It also would allow Casas to enter the fold in 2023 while not having money tied up in the long term.
The MLB trade deadline is Aug. 2.